Brett French reports: Old family boat tests restoration skills
By angelamontana

Posted: August 31, 2023

It’s crazy how a machine can embody so much emotion. In this case, I’m referring to my dad’s 1970s Buehler jet boat, a 19-foot fiberglass beast powered by a Chrysler 440 cubic inch inboard. When my uncle passed it on to me a few years ago, I delayed digging into the problems it possessed – leaking and a hard-starting engine. This summer, I vowed to get it on the water. First, I got the engine running by installing a new fuel pump. When I launched the beast, it unfortunately took on water like a sieve. Two holes were apparent on the hull, so I set out to patch them. My first fiberglassing work wasn’t top-notch, but it seemed to be waterproof. So I launched the boat again. This time, it didn’t start and it took on water. So things were worse despite my work. Such is the life of a boat owner, or a guy trying to restore a boat with few technical skills. YouTube and my bevy of friends have tried to help me out – it takes a village to repair a boat – but there’s never one video that tells me all of what I need, so it’s like an endless treasure hunt. After the last incident, I’m now trying to figure out whether it is worth it to keep throwing money at the old beast or sell it to someone more qualified and patient. If only I wasn’t so emotionally invested in the darned thing. When it ran, even though for a brief moment, it took me back to all of those years of my youth spent with family and friends on the old craft. Back when I had hair.

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Brett French | Outdoors editor | Billings Gazette Communications

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